3GPP NR Meeting 230Balázs Bertényi of Nokia is the 3GPP RAN Chairman, who recently oversaw some remarkably intense work to finalize "5G NR." That's otherwise known as Release 15. Guy Daniels of TelecomTV got clear answers to questions every pr person has been ducking: What is it exactly? How does it differ from LTE radio? The "two main elements" apply to the older definition of 5G, high frequencies only.  

5G NR operates in higher bands, such as 28 GHz millimeter wave. There's a great deal of unused spectrum up there. Also More bandwidth in wider channels, up to 400 MHz. Few today have more than LTE's 100 MHz limit. But the U.S. 28 GHz band has ~2,000 MHz.

The illustration is a schedule from the frantic last week with ~ 200 hours of meetings to wrap things up. The words below are my edits. I recommend you listen to the video. It's less than three minutes.

 At high frequencies, the bandwidth is there. (The available spectrum is the whole point of using mmWave.) Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, & ZTE have all demonstrated 20 GHz peaks. Qualcomm models median actual user speeds well over a gig.

Bertényi doesn't forget, "We also have Massive MIMO." He projects the improved version of MM in Release 15 has 15-20% more throughput in the lower bands. I'm researching whether the improved MM is because of the "New Radio" or just is another improvement in Release 15.

"Of course," he adds, "We also have the low latency." The common target is < 10 milliseconds, although a future, ultrareliable version of 5G can get the latency from the cell to the phone down towards 1 ms. LTE is now down to 2 ms, although neither 5G nor LTE equipment with those low latencies is available. In most telecom networks, you have to add the latency from the cell to the C-RAN intelligence. No one is talking down to 1 or 2 ms unless the intelligence moves to the edge, which is very expensive.

With China Telecom now committing to 3.5 GHz, the strong majority of 5G in Europe and Asia will not be high frequency in the early years according to informal surveys.

There is much, much more in the Release.

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon will turn on the first $20B 5G mmWave network, soon offering a gigabit or close to 30M homes. The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while keeping capex at around 15%.

The Koreans, Chinese, and almost all Europeans are not doing mmWave in favor of mid-band "5G," with 4G-like performance. Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 4X to 10X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year. I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

The predicted massive small cell builds are a pipe dream for vendors for at least five years. Verizon expects to reach a quarter of the U.S. without adding additional small cells. 

In the works: Enrique Blanco and Telefonica's possible mmWave disruption of Germany; Believe it or don't: 5G is cheap because 65% of most cities can be covered by upgrading existing cells; Verizon is ripping out and replacing 200,000 pieces of gear expecting to save half. 

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 5G Why Verizon thinks differently and what to do about it is a new report I wrote for STL Partners and their clients.

STL Partners, a British consulting outfit I respect, commissioned me to ask why. That report is now out. If you're a client, download it here. If not, and corporate priced research is interesting to you, ask me to introduce you to one of the principals.

It was fascinating work because the answers aren't obvious. Lowell McAdam's company is spending $20B to cover 30M+ homes in the first stage. The progress in low & mid-band, both "4G" and "5G," has been remarkable. In most territories, millimeter wave will not be necessary to meet expected demand.

McAdam sees a little further. mmWave has 3-4X the capacity of low and mid-band. He sees an enormous marketing advantage: unlimited services, even less congestion, reputation as the best network. Verizon testing found mmWave rate/reach was twice what had been estimated. All prior cost estimates need revision.

My take: even if mmWave doesn't fit in your current budget, telcos should expand trials and training to be ready as things change. The new cost estimates may be low enough to change your mind.